Hillcroft LRC

Posts Tagged ‘inspirational women

This Monday was International Women’s Day. We celebrate women’s achievements every IMG_0012day at Hillcroft College but this is an annual occasion when we can highlight women who inspire us and draw attention to gender inequalities. Names that have been put forward this week for special mention are: Anne Frank, Mary Wollstonecraft and Hildegard of Bingen. The Open University have created an interactive map showing world-changing women because women are not as visible in history. In the LRC are resources that give voices to women whose lives are remarkable in ways that wouldn’t normally make the history books or be given screen time.

Here are our top 5 resources for finding out more about women’s experiences and strength against opposition and/or oppression:

  1. ‘If you knew me you would care’ by Zainab Salbi and photographs by Rennio Maifredi. (Pictured)
  2. ‘Everyday sexism’ by Laura Bates.
  3. ‘Laughing all the way to the mosque’ by Zarqa Nawaz.
  4. ‘A Passion for Birth’ by Sheila Kitzinger.
  5. ‘The Gold Diggers’ directed by Sally Potter.

 

Pageant of women's work 1920

Pageant of women’s work 1920 from Hillcroft College archives

Looking in our archives of documents created in Hillcroft College reveals how much has changed and how much hasn’t. Fascinating primary sources for a social historian.

The Annual Reports provide details such as the students who were enrolled and lived in the college, who paid their fees (often their employers like Debenhams and Robertsons of jam fame) and what they ended up doing after studying here.

The Annual Report from 1920 also has a pamphlet inside it listing the schedule for the ‘Pageant of Women’s Work’. This consisted of a fair number of presentations and/or readings given by the students on the topic of famous and influential women through the ages. It starts with ‘Women in primitive times’ and goes through until ‘The woman professor’, ‘suffragist’ and ‘The woman M.P.’. They also talked about Florence Nightingale – we featured her this year in the LRC, 95 years later.

Take a look also at the footnote “Words for Tableau VI from Olive Schreiner‘s ‘Women & Labour'” – they were referencing too! Now if only we knew the page number…

The Woman’s Song of Freedom was published by the London Society for Women’s Suffrage in 1911, the music sheet can be found in the British Library’s music collections. Would anyone like to sing it again?

Jane Austen booksFor our display for International Women’s Day, we had to narrow down our selection of inspirational women to just ten. We had a science theme so many of the women who made waves in the arts and humanities were left out. With a couple of students commenting on the absence of the author Jane Austen, it made us think about this inspirational woman in particular.

According to the website Biography.com Jane didn’t receive much recognition during her lifetime and that it was only in the 1920s that people began to see her six works of fiction as genius. In Tomalin’s biography of Austen (2000 p. 11) she informs us that “Jane Austen’s novels do not ramble”. Her wit and observations into society are remarkable as well as her tightly-woven plots. You can find her writing and adaptations of her work in the LRC by searching the catalogue for “Jane Austen”. The BBC’s TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is one of the most loved of all. The novel was originally titled “First Impressions” whilst Northanger Abbey was first called ‘Susan’.

December 16th is Jane Austen Day in celebration of her lasting influence. Most events take place in Bath, where she once lived. If you can’t wait that long to start finding out about Jane and her world, you can also read the online magazine about all things regency (food, fashion, history).

Jane Austen has been in the news recently as a picture of Jane will replace that of Charles Darwin on the £10 note. This was after a campaign led by journalist and feminist activist Caroline Criado-Perez which brought the lack of women on bank notes to the attention of the Bank of England (and the world). The irony is that Jane sold Northanger Abbey to the publisher for £10 in 1803 (see entry for Jane Austen in Encyclopaedia Britannica) which according to the National Archives currency converter would be about £330 in the modern day. Not very much money at all! If only we could go back in time and let her know how priceless her work is.

Which other women do you feel should have made our inspirational women poster or feature more in our everyday lives?


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